Bath of the Titans

Wrath of theTitans posterOn Friday evening I set out with an intrepid band to see The Maltese Falcon on the big screen at the Valentine theater in the big town of Toledo. Through a set of hilarious circumstances we ended up eating dinner at the Burger Bar, where prettty good burgers were eaten but no Maltese falcons were seen. Later, still craving a cinematic fix, we mistreated ourselves to Wrath of the Titans.

My bathetic reactions after the jump.

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A Proclamation

“All citizens take notice that Carnival is decreed for tonight. Turn back the clock. There will be music, dancing, happiness at the Carnival. By order.”

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In Medias Res…

Starting the middle of the academic year at the beginning of the calendar year always seems weird to me. But weird isn’t bad, so I’m getting ready to (as Horace and Ellison recommend) “begin in the middle and later learn the beginning. The end will take care of itself.”

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Gaude! Gaude!

Breaking radio silence here so that I can wish a merry Christmas to those who celebrate it–and a happy weekend to all.

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What a Nobel Mind is Here O’erthrown…

The Nobel Prize Committee passed over me and Bob Dylan again, in spite of my tireless efforts on behalf of American sword-and-sorcery and whatever it is that Dylan does.

I called him up to commiserate. I said, “This is starting to look like a cultural bias against Minnesota expatriates! The Nobel committee has some explaining to do!”

He implicitly agreed, saying, “Who the hell are you and how did you get this number? Stop calling or I’ll have you arrested.”

It’s enigmatic crap like this that’s made him the prophet of a generation, maybe even a generation and a half.

And no Nobel yet. Amazing.

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James Enge Decennial Blues

Went down to the Black Swamp Arts Festival.

Going to see my baby there.

Actually, I went down there with her:

so sweet, so warm, so fair.

We saw/heard these guys there, among others: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. They were great.

Ten years ago today I was teaching a Latin class when the news came in about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. I felt then that we should have gone on with the class, although it didn’t work out that way. (People had people that they were worried about, and that has to come first, even before things as important as Latin.)

But I still kind of feel that way. I don’t believe, I never believed, the “9/11 changed everything!” slogan. That was used by a political faction who wanted to ram through a partisan program of high deficits, perpetual war and the slashing of both civil liberties and social services. They succeeded, and we are not better off for it. We should have avenged our dead, kept them in memory and moved on.

9/11 changed some things but not others. One of the things it didn’t change was this: living well is the best revenge. Music is a part of that and, in extreme cases, dancing.

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Dragon*Con 2011…

… was a blast. That’s what it’s for, I guess.

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This Is It!

The last tractor has been pulled (no, that’s not a euphemism), temperatures in the Great Black Swamp are slated to peak below 80º F today and it’s the first day of classes. On with the show!


I said it elsewhere–I’ve been saying it everywhere–but: congratulations to Lou Anders on his well-deserved Hugo for Best Editor, Long Form.

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Last Night at the Movies…

… or really “this morning at the movies” since I was up until 7 AM or so.

Anyway, after my first substantial blog post all summer, I fell into bed and had crazy intense chase dreams, set to the music of Caravan Palace’s “Jolie Coquine.”

I can’t give you the images, but here’s the music.

Cross-posting to LJ seems a little chancy lately, and comments are still closed on the main blog do to the threat of spamualtion. But I’m still on Facebook and Twitter, if you want to comment/converse.

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Other People’s Morlocks: K.W. Jeter, Morlock Night

When people ask me questions–well, they’re usually saying “WTF is wrong with you!?!”, or other stuff that’s hard to answer without graphs and complex math. But they sometimes ask me where I got the idea for my character Morlock Ambrosius.

When they do, I virtually always say some version of what I said to Howard A. Jones a few years ago on the Blog Gate:

The trigger for [Morlock’s] genesis was reading H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I enjoyed it, but felt that Wells was not really giving the Morlocks a fair shake, much as Tolkien, in his depiction of Middle Earth, arbitrarily made Dwarves inferior to his favorites, the Elves. (Don’t get me started about Elves.) At the same time, some of the Arthurian stuff I was reading was full of names that sounded like Morlock (Morgan, Morgause, Mordred, Morholt). All these elements became connected in my mind, producing this Morlock Ambrosius guy, who was connected somehow both to Dwarves and to Arthurian legend.

This is true, as far as it goes, but it may be incomplete. Someone (I wish I could remember who) pointed out to me that there was a book called Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter that holds a non-trivial place in genre history. Jeter himself is the guy who coined the term steampunk, and Morlock Night (1979) has been widely acclaimed as the leading edge of the first wave of steampunk, a subgenre that’s now swelled into a tsunami so vast it may, before it’s through, dampen all our velvet smoking jackets. More importantly, from the Morlockocentric point of view, Morlock Night mixed Wells’ Morlocks with Arthurian mythology. It seems like Jeter’s book might be the missing link in the evolutionary chain of Morlock Ambrosius. I don’t remember reading it, and I’m pretty sure I would remember reading it, but I may have seen it on bookracks or read reviews of it.

I’ve felt for a while that I should read Morlock Night. But it’s been out of print for a long time, and I didn’t want to pay the prices I saw for used editions. (The fact that it might be on the shelves of a nearby library is something that never occurred to me until five minutes ago. But we’ll pretend that it isn’t, so that I seem like less of a doorknob.) Recently Angry Robot books reprinted it in a new edition which (a.) is incredibly beautiful, with a wonderful cover-painting and design, (b.) sports an introduction by Tim Powers, Jeter’s friend and co-founder of steampunk, and (c.) boasts an afterword by academic and sf writer Adam Roberts. How can it go wrong?

Well. Ahem. I’d feel like a better, more generous person if I could stand up straight and tell you that Morlock Night is one of the world’s fifteen best things. Instead I guess I’ll just slouch here and mutter that the book is not too good. Interesting, no doubt, but not something I can recommend.

My cruel and spoiler-laden review after the jump.

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